Implementing a CTMS: 5 Tips for Success

Karen Olson
November 12th, 2013


By Karen Olson, RN, CCRC, Customer Success, Forte Research Systems

When making the decision to use a CTMS, whether you’re switching systems or are completely new to the technology, it is important to have a plan in place for how your site plans to implement the system. Be sure to consider the following 5 points when planning your strategy, to help ensure the successful adoption of the CTMS by your team.

Create Buy-In

You’ve heard the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Similarly, you can provide your staff with a CTMS, but you can’t make them use it. However, the likelihood of site staff adopting a new system greatly increases if they’ve been provided the opportunity to help pave the way. Include the individuals who will be regularly working in the system in any product demos prior to purchase and ask for their feedback to ensure they are in agreement on what the system needs to accomplish. By creating a sense of “buy-in,” you greatly increase the chance of a successful implementation.

Determine Roles and Responsibilities

Consider all the possible users of the system, and what features of the CTMS will be necessary to the success of their role. Coordinators, investigators, finance, regulatory, and even pharmacy staff may become users of the application. Take the time to ensure that all are appropriately trained in the respective functions of the CTMS. It is also beneficial to determine each staff member’s responsibility in the implementation process. Who will be the main point of contact with the vendor? Who will be responsible for coordinating the initial import of data? Will there be one or two people who are subject matter experts in navigating the CTMS? If others have questions, where will they turn?

Establish Timelines

Timelines are an essential component to a successful implementation, and therefore, should be thought out even before acquiring a system. With an end goal in mind of when you’d like the CTMS to be fully adopted, work backwards in setting “mini goals” and deadlines for your team. Being realistic in your expectations will help ensure you don’t fall behind. Consider the time it will take to complete various activities, and set deadlines accordingly. Examples of activities that could be mapped out onto your timeline include staff training, data imports, and study set up.

Set Priorities

Similar to setting timelines, you’ll want to set priorities within those activities. For example, if one of the items on your timeline is staff training, will it all be done at the same time? Or, will a few individuals be trained at a time, based on their needs within the system? If you’re setting up your studies in the CTMS, will you set up all studies at once, regardless of what stage the study is currently in? Or, will you only start with a few new studies and add in existing ones over time? Trying to do everything at once will only slow the implementation. Setting priorities based on your site’s needs can ultimately save time and get your moving faster with a new CTMS.

Celebrate Successes

Regardless of the length of time you have planned for implementation — whether 2 weeks, 2 months, or 6 months — it is important to celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Recognize when you have reached key milestones in your implementation plan and acknowledge staff for their hard work and contributions. When you’ve reached the final goal and are fully utilizing the system, share the enjoyment of success with your team. They will be that much more excited to use the CTMS, having been involved since the beginning and seeing the fruits of their labor!

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